How to Get the Most Out of Your Campus Career Center

by | Oct 21, 2022 | Career Center, Internships, Networking

Shhh. You didn’t hear this from me but college campus career centers are not great. Yes, they offer guidance and workshops but in my opinion they are not equipping students with the networking skills required to actually land an internship or post-graduation job.

More than 85% of internships and jobs are found via networking. Students need to learn how to make connections, build rapport and get their network to help them in their job search. Sadly, most universities are not teaching students hands-on networking skills.

This is why I started my business.

Here is a list of 10 questions every college student should ask their university’s career center long BEFORE senior year!

1. Does the campus career center have an email newsletter or social media channels you should subscribe to?

You need to find a way to stay informed of all career related activities and networking events offered on campus and check it regularly.

2. Do you have a career advisor or coach who can work with me while I’m attending this school?

Ideally, you want to work with the same person for all 4 years. This way, you are working with someone who knows you. Your coach/advisor can help you with career development and even selecting a career path.

3. How do I schedule an appointment with someone at career services?

Each school has its preferred way to set up appointments with career personnel. Follow their protocol and set appointments weeks ahead of time.

4. Who can help me create a strong resume and cover letter? Can I work with someone who has experience in my industries of interest?

Most college career centers proof resumes for grammar, format and punctuation, not so much content. Ideally, you want someone who is going to help you add meaningful and strong content to your resume. You want a career coach who is going to interview you about your past job experiences (even if you’ve only been a camp counselor or life guard) and translate those experiences into job skills and into achievements.

5. Does career services offer a 1:1 session to help me create a LinkedIn profile?

There is more to a LinkedIn profile than a great profile picture. Work with someone who is qualified to enhance your profile and teach you HOW to use LinkedIn effectively to identify relevant professionals and reach out to them.

6. Can career services teach me how to conduct a successful informational interview?

It’s always beneficial to set up informational interviews with alumni. However, there’s more to an Informational interview than simply talking. You need to come across as interesting (share facts about you) as well as interested in the other person (ask smart questions that demonstrate you’ve done your homework). Other tips include playing back what you hear and asking for referrals.

7. Do you offer a mentorship program?

If no: Can you help match me to an alumni mentor related to my intended career/industry?
I can’t stress enough the importance of getting a mentor; too many benefits to list here.

If yes: How does the mentoring program work?
Try to arrange to be matched with more than one alumni. Request 2 mentors in different industries if you are considering 2 different career paths. The more professional connections you have, the better.

8. How and when will the university be conducting internship/career fairs?

If they are offering virtual options, inquire about coaching. Find out if they offer a workshop teaching students how to best navigate a virtual career fair.

If the fairs are in-person, ask a similar question. Ask if there are workshops for students to learn how to best navigate an in-person job fair.

9. Is there an online alumni directory or database?

Connecting with relevant alumni during a job search can be very helpful. Many schools have an internal alumni database for students. But it’s really just an “internal LinkedIn” of alumni without email addresses nor phone numbers. Ask how you can obtain email addresses of alumni because messaging people on Linkedin doesn’t always result in a response. .

10. Can someone help me prepare for the big interview including coming up with answers to behavioral interview questions?

Interviews can be nerve-racking but like anything else, the fear can lessen with practice. Having the opportunity to run through a couple of mock interviews can really help you form articulate answers to standard questions.

Now that you know what to ask, get a head start by being proactive and visiting your campus career center. You won’t know the services they offer, until you ask. And if you have any questions along the way or feel like you need help beyond your career center, don’t hesitate to reach out. I would be more than happy to chat with you about your unique situation and offer professional advice.